Equipment And Performance

by Will Landrum

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to submit an MP3
to, an outstanding guitar community site for
advancing guitarists. After
doing so, I received several positive emails regarding the
tune and the educational write-up that I supplied with the

Here it is today with some added content and tablature for you
to check out.

The name of the tune is "Hour Champion" and it was written
in a drop D tuning. What that means is that I simply tuned
my sixth string, which is E, down a whole step to D. That's
what gives it such a beefy low intro riff and chorus rhythm.

Now, another way to get a totally heavy sound is to tune all
six of your strings down a whole step. This is actually easier
than what I did with "Hour Champion" because all of your chord
and note fingering is the same as always. The notes of your
open strings would now be:

6 = D
5 = G
4 = C
3 = F
2 = A
1 = D

If you use a tuner, it will have to have the capability to
recognize these notes. Otherwise, you can simply tune the
low E down to D in comparison with the normal fourth
string D. (one octave lower) Once you have the sixth string
tuned down, just use relative tuning from the sixth string.

Also, when you tune down like this, you may want to use a
heavier gauge string. I usually use lite's which are:

Lite Gauge Strings:
E 042
A 032
D 024
G 016
B 011
E 009

But when I tune all my strings down a whole step, 10's give
me a much better tone and feel.

Regular Gauge Strings:
E 046
A 036
D 026
G 017
B 013
E 010

The chorus melody of "Hour Champion" is an expansion of
sweep picking a Dm arpeggio. I opened up the sound of the Dm
arpeggio by using a combination of wider intervals, normal
arpeggio intervals and normal scale intervals.

For instance, the first three notes of the melody are part
of a D sweeping 5th arpeggio. This is when I totally omit
the 3rd of the arpeggio and just sweep pick the 1st's and

Just after that, it chimes in with a partial 2nd inversion
Dm arpeggio starting at the 14th fret. My arpeggios are
fluid. What I mean is that I sweep pick arpeggios one note
per string across all six strings for speed and efficiency.
In this case however, I have "chopped" the arp in half and
only play it on the first, second, and third strings.

The ending phrases after the partial Dm arpeggio are
centered on the 13th, 15th and 17th frets, first and second
strings in the Ionian/Locrian multi-position pattern. I can't
stress enough how important it is for you to memorize all of
the modal scale patterns. Your creativity will skyrocket
when you do.

Here's the tab for the arpeggiated chorus melody:

Need help reading tablature?

Part A
         \  \         po
E ----------------------------------13-17-13--------
B ------15-17-18-17-15-13-10-----15----------15-----
G ---14-----------------------14----------------14--
D 12------------------------------------------------
A --------------------------------------------------
E --------------------------------------------------
Part B
             \    po po    po po    ~~~~
E -------------------------17-15-13-----------------
B ------15-17-18-17-15-13-----------17-15-13-17-----
G ---14---------------------------------------------
D 12------------------------------------------------
A --------------------------------------------------
E --------------------------------------------------

-- Repeat Part A --

Part C
             \    po po    po po       ~~~~
E -------------------------17-15-13----------15-----
B ------15-17-18-17-15-13-----------17-15-13----15--
G ---14---------------------------------------------
D 12------------------------------------------------
A --------------------------------------------------
E --------------------------------------------------

Another important aspect to this beefy rhythm sound is the
effects that I used. I used a Roland GP-16 guitar processor
with no post amplification. I just plugged my guitar into
the processor and plugged the output of the processor into
the 4-Track. Oh yeah...this tune, and my entire CD was
recorded on a Tascam 4-Track!

The GP-16 has multiple effects that I combined to get the
heavy sound. Surprisingly, out of distortion, compression,
noise filtering and equalization, the secret to the sound is
in the parametric equalization. I adjusted the mids and
highs until I got a tone that I liked, and then boosted the
lower 250hz range. Increasing the 250hz area gives your
guitar a bass punch that simulates a loud stack of amps.
Totally cool, since I was recording at home with headphones!

I used (and still use) a Westone Spectrum FX guitar that I
got in the 80's. I had the rear pickup replaced with a signal
sucking Dimarzio and the entire neck has been scalloped.

I really like the scalloped fretboard. It gives me much more
control of the notes because there is no wood rubbing against
my fingertips. If you're not familiar with a scalloped neck,
here's a side view of mine -

I must admit, most guitarists I talk to can't stand
scalloping or the idea of it. I, however, am sold. I'll always
have my guitars scalloped because of the benefits I gain.

When I first started playing my scalloped neck, I had trouble
with my first string at the high frets being pulled off of
the neck. You know why I was pulling it off? Because I wasn't
fretting the note straight down like I should have been. Prior
to scalloping, the wood contacting my fingers helped "cover"
my fretting inaccuracy.

On a final note, (no pun intended) the reason I switched to
a scalloped board is control. I "test drove" a scalloped
guitar and immediately realized that I could control my bends
and vibrato much better on all strings at all frets.

That's what I mean by control...'s just your fingers and the strings.

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